OHIO STATE FOOTBALL GAME NOTES VS. ILLINOIS

#3 OHIO STATE (4-0) VS. ILLINOIS (2-3) Saturday, November 28 • Noon • Champaign, Ill. • Memorial Stadium • FS1 • 97.1 FM The Fan Head Coach: Ryan Day Record at Ohio State: 20-1 (2nd) Career Record: Same Career vs. Opponent: 0-0 Head Coach: Lovie Smith Record at Illinois: 17-37 (5th) Career Record: Same Career vs. Ohio State: 0-1

THE BASICS: Ohio State ventures onto the road for the second time this season as it heads to Champaign, Ill. To face Illinois at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon ET on FS1.  The Buckeyes won a key Big Ten East Division game last Saturday over No. 9 Indiana, jumping out to a 35-7 third-quarter lead and then thwarting a Hoosier comeback attempt in the fourth quarter for a 42-35 victory.  Ohio State continues to possess on the nation’s most potent offenses. The Buckeyes had 607 total yards last week and were equally balanced on the ground (307 yards on 50 carries) and through the air (300 yards and two touchdowns).  Ohio State and Illinois will be meeting for the first time since 2017 on Saturday. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1902, 68-30-4. From 1919 to 1933, the Ohio State-Illinois game was annually the final contest of the regular season.  The Buckeyes and Illinois will be playing this weekend for the Illibuck Trophy. The Illibuck is a carved wooden turtle that has been award to the winner of the Ohio State/Illinois game since 1925.

THE BUCKEYES … BRIEFLY  Ohio State’s passing game is headlined by Justin Fields, who is fourth nationally in quarterback efficiency (202.10).  Fields is completing 79 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.  His top wide receiver targets are Garrett Wilson, who is seventh nationally at 128.3 yards per game, and Chris Olave, who averages 97.3 yards per game. The pair has combined to catch eight of Fields’ 13 touchdowns.  Master Teague set career highs in attempts (26) and yards (169) last week while also adding two touchdown runs, including one of 41 yards. Teague is averaging 95.0 yards per game and has 100-yard efforts against both Penn State and Indiana. Teague’s backfield mate, Trey Sermon, is second on the team with 232 yards on 45 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and has added four receptions for 35 yards.  On defense, senior linebacker Pete Werner leads the team with 24 tackles and has added 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.  Two of his fellow position mates – Tuf Borland and Baron Browning – each have 19 tackles.  The backend of the defense is headlined by All-America candidate Shaun Wade, who had a 36-yard interception return for touchdown late in the third quarter of last Saturday’s win over Indiana.  Wade added three tackles and a pass breakup.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS:  Illinois is coming off its most complete effort of the 2020 season, a 41-23 win at Nebraska. The Illini rushed for 302 yards in the game, led by the tandem of Mike Epstein and Chase Brown, who each finished with 115 yards and scored three touchdowns.  Quarterback Brandon Peters returned after a three-game absence and completed 18 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown.  Illinois’ defense ranks fourth in the Big Ten in both tackles for loss and sacks. Linebacker Jake Hansen is tops on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and 44 total tackles. Owen Carney Jr. leads the Illini with 4.5 sacks for minus 39 yards.

STRENGTH AGAINST STRENGTH: Ohio State’s run defense will be tested this week by the conference’s No. 2-ranked rushing offense in Illinois. The Illini are averaging 222.4 yards per game and eight of their 11 offensive touchdowns have come on the ground.  The Buckeyes have the Big Ten’s top rushing offense at 233.2 yards per game.  Master Teague’s 380 yards is third highest in the conference and he’s tied for second with six rushing touchdowns.